Park Hosts African American History Open House Discussions

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to two open house events concerning the history of African Americans within and around the park. The discussion events will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 1 at the Blount County Public Library in Maryville, TN and on Monday, August 5 at the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center in Waynesville, NC. 

“The National Park Service is charged to preserve all the many voices of our past,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “In learning about our past, we open the doors to our future. We hope that even more people will see themselves included and connected to the Smokies through this effort.”

Park Hosts African American History Open House Discussions. Title:                      African American family sitting on the front porch
Photo Collection: Garner, William Orland
Time Period:         1890-1903 Description: This photo shows an African American man and two adult African American women sitting in chairs on a wooden porch; there is also a young African American girl leaning on the woman in the middle. The man is dressed in a shirt and pants with suspenders, and there is a hat resting on one of his knees. The two woman have on dresses and aprons; the one in the middle has a bandana wrapped around her head. The child has on a dress and is barefoot. There is a wooden shingle roof over the wooden building; there is also a window visible. There is a broom resting against the house wall; there are various objects hung on the wall including a cattle bell. There is dirt in the foreground.

Title:                      African American family sitting on the front porch
Photo Collection: Garner, William Orland
Time Period:         1890-1903

Description: This photo shows an African American man and two adult African American women sitting in chairs on a wooden porch; there is also a young African American girl leaning on the woman in the middle. The man is dressed in a shirt and pants with suspenders, and there is a hat resting on one of his knees. The two woman have on dresses and aprons; the one in the middle has a bandana wrapped around her head. The child has on a dress and is barefoot. There is a wooden shingle roof over the wooden building; there is also a window visible. There is a broom resting against the house wall; there are various objects hung on the wall including a cattle bell. There is dirt in the foreground.

Participants will have the opportunity to both learn about the history of African Americans in the park and also to share their personal experiences or family stories. While African Americans have been in the Great Smoky Mountains since at least the early 19th century, knowledge of their presence is relatively low. The park is conducting this research effort to better understand the untold history of the African American experience in southern Appalachia. 

The research is supported by Friends of the Smokies. For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Resource Education Park Ranger Rhonda Wise at rhonda_wise@nps.gov.

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